The Shipwreck Hunter by David Mearns

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: It is really hard to find old shipwrecks. Who knew?!

Quick synopsis: Selected shipwreck findings of celebrated explorer/shipwreck hunter David Mearns.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Shipwrecks are sometimes so easy to find it’s kind of embarrassing. The Esmeralda, a 500-year-old ship was found in about 5 meters of water.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Did you know numbers nerds combined with nature nerds can figure out where ships sank? I sure as hell didn’t. Mearns talks about how he and his team would target places to look by figuring out the currents, winds, and other math/science nerd stuff. And it would work!

My Take: I was very skeptical of this book when I purchased it. I heard great things, but also worried I was about to read about some blowhard explaining how smart he was and how he found these ships. I was half right.

Mearns has two things going for him in his book. First, he is a smarty pants but isn’t a jerk about it. He explains his methods and why they work, gives credit to his team, and never oversells or undersells his abilities. It is a vital part of this book because if he came off as arrogant it would have turned me off quickly. Conversely, you can’t try and tell me you are just lucky when you are finding ships on the ocean floor. It is a tough tone to keep throughout a book, but Mearns does it.

The second thing he has going for him is that he can tell a story. He recounts how all the ships were lost in vivid detail without overburdening the reader with extraneous narrative. You understand the importance of these ships without falling asleep. Also, and I am not sure how, he makes the science interesting. Again, I think this is Mearns knowing when enough information is enough and to move on to the next part of the story.

Verdict: This is a hell of a book and a great read. So go ahead and read it.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Eric Jay Dolin, Brilliant Beacons
  • Spike Walker, Coming Back Alive
  • Michael Tougias, The Finest Hours
  • Michael Schumacher, Wreck of the Carl D.
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The Shipwreck Hunter by David Mearns
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